Is there another restaurant with almost 400 items on the menu? If so, is there another restaurant that has been in the same Soi for 30 years? And is there another restaurant where the 79 year old chef (Somsak himself) cooks certain dishes for you at the table with a running commentary? There is not, other than Somsakdi’s (AKA Somsak’s).
The tale of Somsak is one of a long and arduous apprenticeship. He began his working life as a delivery boy for Pepsi at B. 450 a month.
A turning point was to come in his life after just a few months of pushing Pepsi wheel barrows. He met famous restaurateur Dolf Riks, who advised him that if he were to achieve his aim of being his own boss, he should go to the kitchens. This he did, and traveled the world in sea-going galleys, bringing back not postcards, but recipes from different parts of the world. He worked with famous cooks such as Moogens Bay Esbensen, at the renowned Two Vikings Restaurant in Bangkok. Finally he came to Pattaya and worked with Dolf Riks, his advisor from so many years before and then opened his own restaurant, simply called “Somsak’s” to be later called “Somsakdi’s”.
Now this is an easy restaurant to find. It is on Soi 1 from Beach Road and this soi is one way up to 2nd Road. About half way up on the left hand side and you will find Somsakdi restaurant set back slightly with a small car park in front. Don’t worry if it is full, there is plenty of other parking spaces in Soi 1 itself.
The restaurant is very large with very high ceilings. Tables are large, chairs are comfy and Somsak himself is everywhere. He used to have a towel on his left shoulder but now he told me the towel is too old and fell apart! Was he telling me something?
The menu is probably the largest menu in Pattaya (if not the world), with I believe 374 individual items. Each dish is in Thai with an amusing English explanation underneath. Pasa Angkrit is not Somsak’s native tongue.
It begins with beers, including imported Japanese beers such as Sapporo and Fosters for the Australians. Large bottles were B. 90-100, so no premium placed on them.
Appetizers came next with most around B. 170-200, including the very popular Chiang Mai sausage, followed by a section called Thai salads, with items such as banana flowers, eggplant and cockles.
Seafood dishes generally range between B. 200-350. You will find crab claws cooked in the pot with soy sauce, pepper and herbs.
Spicy soups are amazing with 27 on offer priced as a single portion or for a number of guests sharing with Tom Yum Goong, for example B. 200 single serve, B. 400 shared. There are also 14 Chinese soups (B. 170-340).
Pork and beef items are up next (and there are 26 of them), chicken and duck on offer at B. 170-250.
And so it goes on through 15 fried rice dishes, 8 fried egg and even a vegetarian section.
Now comes pages of European items with soups (B. 150-200), with ‘Special’ dishes (B. 250-350) including T-bone steak and pork chops.
For the Dining Out team, the easy way through the menu was just to ask Somsak what he would suggest. It was decided that we would have some Thai style starters which included a pork and crab meat deep-fried item and then into a mixture of Thai and European dishes which included his signature dishes of Masaman chicken and a lamb tenderloin. One other dish was his flambé chicken, at the table with lots of theatre and was excellent.
How do you rate a restaurant like this? Thirty years and still going very strong. Somsak now has his son in the kitchen to keep the restaurant in the family for the next 30 years. If you haven’t experienced this restaurant, please do. You will not be disappointed.
Somsakdi Restaurant, Pattaya Soi 1, tel. 038 428 987, 038 423 284, 038 429 869, limited parking plus on-street parking in the soi. Hours 11 a.m. until late, seven days.